Saturday, 20 March 2010

Have Suitcase but no travel!

9 Locks, 5.10 Miles. Now moored at Longwood Junction.

Well today started out reasonably well. I managed to get a looooong hot shower at the facilities block and we had a peaceful night despite being near a road bridge. Unfortunately Derek on Uccello was only slightly improved after doing his back a mischief a couple of days ago but he was determined to soldier on. Everything was going well until we turned right at Rushall Junction. It was like changing from a wide river to a narrow stream. With reeds on both sides and the water depth becoming shallower our progress slowed quite decidedly.

Tame Valley 033Part of the old back pumping system at the Perry Barr flight

At lock 9 I dropped Dot off to do her locking duties and immediately became grounded in soft mud. When Dot had the lock set I tried to move off when all of a sudden there was a bang and the engine died. I signalled Derek on Uccello to pass me as he was sitting mid stream awaiting his turn. When I got down the weed hatch I was confronted by something big and blue. I attacked it with my pole hook to start off with and came away with the lid of a vinyl suitcase. I could feel wire in amongst the debris but my cutters were not strong enough to cut it. What I needed was a pair of bolt cutters which Carrie was kindly loaned by a neighbour tending his garden. I did manage to make a few cuts in the wire but to no avail due to the age and condition of the cutters.

Tame Valley 034 This sort of graffiti is acceptable. A good likeness of Bob Marley.

Only one thing for it but to ring BW for some heavy equipment. The Foreman I spoke to said that he could have somebody with us in about an hour or so and I told him what would be required, i.e. bolt cutters. While waiting we decided to keep going by bow hauling Gypsy Rover up through the locks as they are fairly close together. This went well between locks 9 and 8 but going up to lock 7 we went aground and had a devils own job getting into the lock. With some help from Carrie we did finally make it but decided that was enough bow hauling for one day. It worked out quite well actually because BW could drive in right alongside the boat at this point.

Tame Valley 035 Looking down the Perry Barr flight from the top.

BW crew No 1 arrived only armed with an extra long pole hook with which they manage to extricate the main body of the suitcase but there was still a lot of the framework wrapped around the prop shaft. Only one thing for it they had to go to the yard for some bolt cutters, (that’s funny where had I heard that mentioned before?), this they assured me would only take 20 minutes. In the meantime we had our lunch. About an hour and a half later a BW truck arrived, but hang on that’s a different crew!  Sure enough BW crew No 2 had received a phone call from crew No1 to say that the front wheel bearing on their truck had collapsed and they were awaiting a recovery wagon to take them to the garage so could crew no 2 carry on where crew no 1 had left off and finish trying to help us.

Tame Valley 039The height of these bridges gives some indication how deep the valley is.

Not a problem but of course they were on the other side of Birmingham hence the time delay. Needless to say they didn’t have any bolt cutters, only a hack saw and secateurs neither of which were going to be much use. However the younger of the 2 guys donned his long gloves, headed down the weed hatch and after about 20 minutes had managed to unwind the wire and remove it completely. After a quick check to make sure that we were back in working order they left taking with them one very battered and torn suitcase.

Tame Valley 041Rushall Canal where a new towpath is in better condition than the actual canal.

The irony of crew No1’s truck is that it was due to be written off and replaced with a brand new truck next Wednesday. What a bummer! After all this we finally got under way again and made our present moorings with no further ado but we have since learnt that the canal is much shallower this week due to the Chasewater Reservoir being drained.

2162 locks, 4179.91 miles, 87 tunnels, 130 swing bridges and 58 lift bridges since Nov 2006

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